We're All JACKED UP on Nonfiction!!!!

Sorry for the title...it is the best I could do! I must also apologize if all of the crazy "lines" from Talladega Nights are running through your mind right now. {Seriously...I am sorry!} I am SO NOT a Will Ferrell fan, HOWEVER and this is a BIG HOWEVER...my husband makes  asks politely for me to watch all of these crazy movies with him. For some reason that funny Ferrell just makes my skin crawl! Geezee...OK onto bigger and better things! I am convinced that I am going to make up for lost time all in one post! Hold on tight...it may be a little bumpy in some areas. AND I may or may not have 20 plus photos in this post. {Don't Judge!} :)  OK...before you begin praying to 8 pound 6 ounce newborn infant Jesus {Sorry...I had to...if you haven't seen the movie...Don't! Ha!} let's move along!

It has been all things nonfiction in my classroom for the past few weeks. Seriously we have been eating, drinking, breathing and sleeping nonfiction in the classroom but we have had a ball learning and researching. Here are a few activities that have kept us busy! 

We began with a little introduction anchor chart thanks to the GREAT Abby over at The Inspired Apple. The students came up with examples of nonfiction materials. I was really impressed when they offered up the suggestion of religion and discoveries! Wow!

We just recently finished up our study on narrative elements, so we moved on to a little higher level thinking activity where we compared and contrasted the two types of text using a Venn Diagram.

Throughout our study, we have really taken a deep look into what "good readers" do before, during and after reading nonfiction. This anchor chart was put together piece by piece throughout the unit and was completely created with the student's ideas. They are really becoming "nonfiction pros"! 

Next Up...Our Road Trip Through Nonfiction Text Features
Each day, I have introduced a new feature to the students. Some have been review and others have been completely new. By the end of our four week study, we will have visited 28 text features. When we learn about a new feature on our trip, we collect a license plate and display  it on our "Road Trip Collection Wall".  {I don't have a picture of this but here is what our little license plates look like...}

After introducing a new feature, the students dive straight into a text to locate and label the text feature discussed. We use sticky notes to identify and label. 
Once the students label the feature, I have some wonderful volunteers make copies of each child's feature that they have located in their book. This particular picture shows the student gluing in their picture in which they have identified and labeled the title of a nonfiction text.

We add a little definition for the feature and now the students have their very own little resource of nonfiction text features. I love using authentic resources to locate these parts so the students actually identify with their reading material. The students have completed this same routine for all parts of our nonfiction notebook. It requires a little extra work on the teachers part but the hard work has paid off. The students truly have their features discussed thus far down pat and use them to deepen their understanding and knowledge of the content in our books. We have just a few more to go! 

If you need to a new way to help you introduce all things nonfiction, you can check the unit out by clicking {HERE}. 

In addition to our study of nonfiction features, we have shared in deep conversation and learning about how we read nonfiction. One strategy that I L.O.V.E. is a little strategy I learned in my graduate program. I believe it is called the "Ran" strategy but I am not certain of the exact name. All I know is that it is the BOMB strategy for nonfiction. I will try to do a separate post about this strategy this week. This strategy allows students to activate prior knowledge but it doesn't just stop there. The students must then confirm their prior knowledge or identify it as a misconception. Talk about higher level thinking! While reading, they then identify new learning and inquire about future learning. KWL what??? I am telling you, for the upper grades this little strategy is where it is AT!!!

The students adore this strategy and can't wait to confirm their prior knowledge. Secretively...I think they like the misconceptions too! It becomes a little game! :) If you are interested in this strategy, you can click on the picture below for a few printables. 

After activating prior knowledge, the students began their research on spiders. They created a bubble map to identify their new learning and the main idea of their text.
Click on the picture below for the Spider Facts bubble map.

Once we had identified new learning, we learned about talking back to our book. The kids just thought this was too much! After identifying a fact, {a.k.a. new learning} the students "talked back" to their book with a response. Some students kept it simple with a "Oh..cool...I didn't know that." AND then you have those students who are all about connections with the "Spiders are just like vampires!"  The students then turned their new learning back into a question. For example, if a student learned that spiders have eight legs, they may respond with a questions such as "Is a spider an insect since it does not have six legs?" This little concept of "talking back" to your book was a H.I.T.!!! It has been hysterical in reading groups to hear students thinking about their learning and responding to the text! BLISS!
Click on the picture below for our response chart.

We used our Weekly Reader Magazine which just so happened to be about bones {perfect for Halloween} to research facts. The students turned their main idea and details into a paragraph written to inform. {We even threw in a little author's purpose review!} The students created a fun little art project to display with their writings.

Here are a few examples: 

Then...thanks to Pinterest...we had to make a human skeleton.

So some of our bones didn't quite connect and we had to understand that our model bones were made based on the "average size" student! The students still fully understood where bones were located, what they were called and their purpose for our body. We also added labels to fit right in with our nonfiction unit.
{Poor little guy!} :)

And finally, one of my favorite projects...our pumpkin globes. We are beginning to study geography in social studies so we created pumpkin globes! Oh.My.Word!!! So much FUN! We identified and LABELED {yes...yes..see it works with nonfiction elements} each continent, ocean and the equator. We also identified the northern and southern hemispheres. This was another activity that I will totally stash away for next year!

Alright friends! I told you that I had WAY too much to catch you up on! I hope that you all had a productive Monday!

Happy Teaching Friends!!!


  1. I want to be in your classroom! Quick question...where did you get the large bones for their human bodies?


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  2. I heart your ideas and your blog!! =)

  3. I am totally loving the pumpkin globes! How awesome is that? Will definitely try that next pumpkin season with my 2nd graders!

  4. Thank you so much for sharing! Your timing for non-fiction text couldn't have been more perfect!

  5. Oh my gosh, I loved everything in this post! I especially love the activating knowledge chart--thank you SO much for sharing it!!

  6. I am with Kristen, I loved everything in this post! Is it possible to share the smartboard page with the activating knowledge chart on it? I love how colorful it is!
    Lesson plans & Lattes

  7. ok - your anchor chart cuteness makes me sick! lol...I totally lack skill to make them that cute, but I'm trying!

  8. I love your blog. So many great ideas to make learning fun and exciting!

  9. do you happen to have printables for the continents that you put on your pumpkin globe? love this idea. did you cut them out or paint them on? maybe modpodge paper cutouts on?? thanks!

  10. I Just did a unit similar to this and this with my second graders. We made a small book of each feature. I would love a copy of your license plate book idea even if it's in a paid unit.

  11. Agree...agree...agree :) Thank you so much for sharing your great ideas and I would LOVE to know where I could get a copy of your "road trip book" and smart board lesson template! Thanks again!

  12. I love the idea of a nonfiction road trip as well! Is there anyway you will make that a unit on your TPT store?

  13. You are too fabulous! Thanks I linked you on your rockin' chart, I hope that's okay. Let me know if that's bad blog manners. I have a few girls that can meet in Jan/Feb if you want to do a paid workshop! Thanks- Tara

  14. Those pumpkins are really awesome. I wish I could rewind this year and do them with my class!!

  15. I love your anchor charts. I don't, however, feel quite so cute and crafty when I hand write things for my classroom. I created a handout version of your wonderful anchor chart, "How do I read nonfiction?". I uploaded it to my TpT store, for free of course. Here is the link if you want a copy :)